The H1N1 pandemic flu strain has again reared its ugly head this flu season, but this time health officials are hoping our immune systems are more ready for it.
Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has this week announced that the H1N1 strain, which was particularly acute in youth, is back after a hiatus.
She said 90 per cent of the flu cases reported in the past two weeks were tested as H1N1. She recommends everyone, especially children, be vaccinated.
The common flu can be fatal for the elderly, the young and those with compromised immune systems.
Fraser Health medical health officer Michelle Murti said so far it has not be a bad year for influenza in the region.
“If anything, this has been a quieter flu season fur us.”
The return of H1N1 pandemic strain could change that, but she said many more people have been exposed to it, either while the bug swept across the globe in 2009, or as part of the flu shot this year and in previous flu shots.
“People getting a flu shot are getting some protection from that.”
However, she said it is too soon to say how similar this strain is to the 2009 H1N1 strain.
“Overall, it is quieter. It’s something we’re monitoring,” said Murti. “People should be getting their flu shots.”
She noted that with more inclusive qualifications for free flu shots – from the young to the elderly, to people working with these groups and even the obese – there is a large segment of the population that can get the shots free.
New this year, a nasal spray is available for children aged two to 17.
Murti said it is not too late for the shots to be effective.
A cough accompanied by a fever are hallmarks of the flu, and Murti advised people exhibiting these symptoms to stay home, so they avoid spreading the virus